On Sunday, Arsenal will face their toughest challenge of this early season against a Manchester City squad coming off a demoralizing lose to Real Madrid in the Champions League. When I saw the schedule for the first time over the summer, the September 23 match stuck out like a sore thumb.
After losing Robin van Persie, the match with City, the defending Premier League Champions, looked deadly to the Gunners. But now, with Arsene Wenger's club looking stellar at the moment, I'm pretty confident they can go into the and get a victory. It'll be difficult, but the Gunners defense can go toe-to-toe with the best right now.
Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla are playing at a high level, scoring against their last three opponents pretty effortlessly. I'm sure Wenger's new guys, Podolski, Cazorla and Olivier Giroud wanted to beat the defending champions the moment they saw the date and opponent on the schedule.
Wenger revealed Wojciech Szczesny will miss Sunday's clash with City and is out of action for "two to three weeks." Vito Mannone is likely to play in the absence of the Poland international. I'm not that worried about losing Szczesny because the Gunners' midfield are capable of keeping City away from Arsenal's goal for large chunks of time. Szczesny's error against Southampton last weekend allowed David Fox to become the first player to hit the back of the net against Arsenal in the league this season.
It would be a nice surprise if Jack Wilshere returned to the pitch on Sunday. Although, Wenger revealed he will not consider rushing him back into his first team until he has had "at least ten full days of training." Wilshere returned to full training with Arsenal on Thursday and is edging closer to making his first start after months of grueling treatment and recovery from an ankle, knee and foot injuries. Throwing someone in after a 14-month lay-off hastily is not a wise choice.
With Podolski, Giroud, Gervinho and Cazorla, getting Wilshere back quickly doesn't seem as important as it did before all of the additions over the summer. Wilshere could elevate the Gunners' play, but why mess with what's currently working?
Manchester City could have a big bounce back after losing to Real Madrid, but against a club playing as good as Arsenal, I think it's unlikely.
Note: I've been an Arsenal fan for nearly a decade. My cousin got me interested in the club at a young age.